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There are excellent reasons for training your dog to pay attention, especially if they are reactive or aggressive. Many aggressive dogs are anxious about the situation they are in and unable to properly assess whether there is a legitimate threat.
Getting and keeping your dog’s attention is one of the first steps needed in treating dog aggression, and yet it is a step that is often taken for granted. We call our dog’s name, they look at us, or come over for a pet or their dinner, or for a toy, and we think they have learned how to pay attention to us. But often they pay attention because they are curious and it’s that that has become a habit.
In these cases, getting your dog’s attention at the first sign of arousal can interrupt the process and teach your dog to look to you about cues on how he or she should read the situation.
Unfortunately, most dog owners misread just how concerned their dogs actually are, and so when we try to get our dog’s attention, the dog is completely ignores us. We have to remember that in these cases, if a dog is worried, his or her first priority is to ensure their own well-being and safety. No amount of calling, shouting, bribing or leash pulling from you is going to compete.
So the first thing we need to do is act sooner (which requires attention on our part). The second thing we need to do is establish a habit so automatic, that it’s performed without thinking.
We have some advantages here. Once a habit is well established in a dog, it will often override whatever is going on at a time more so than it does with humans. Of course this can work against us, but getting and keeping your dog’s attention not difficult to teach, nor practice and easily incorporate into our daily lives.
We need to pay attention, too!
We forget that we have entered into a reciprocal relationship when we bring a dog into our lives. Some people say no one knows us better than our dog. They are far superior to us in reading body language.
Dogs pay attention to whether their owners are paying attention to them.
Not only do we need to pay more attention to the cues our dogs are giving us that shows us they’re concerned, but the degree to which we are paying attention to them may also affect their behavior.
Dogs stayed lying down most often or for the longest time when owners were watching them, compared to when the owner was reading a book, watching TV, etc.,
Dogs will be more likely to beg from a person paying attention to them, as well as follow a command when their owners were looking at them.
Attention is the new currency
It’s said that attention in the new currency. Our attention is fragmented and broken and interrupted. But this is really only applied to humans. Digs are the same as they were before. We can and should take time out in our lives to be in the moment. There is no better way to do this than with our dogs.
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